India’s obsession with astrology is ancient, and Pushpendra Nath Mishra centers a comedy-drama around it. What happens when a man disregards people and only obsesses over astrology? Choona gives a fitting response to the question. Jimmy Shergill stars as politician Mr. Shukla, a man who wears gemstones on all his ten fingers, in this comedy-drama. Shukla dreamed of becoming the Chief Minister, and he has immense confidence in himself. And why not? He controlled the police and ministers and had developed a business relationship with a construction company, Shenoy Builders. Not only did he have the power and influence, but he also had the money required to run a successful campaign. But there was one problem: according to his Panditji (astrologer), his planetary position was not auspicious, and he advised Shukla against carrying out any important task during this phase. Will Shukla listen to the astrologer, or will he dare to go against the reading?
What Resulted In The Enmity Between Shukla And Ansari?
As the Minister of Urban Development, Shukla decided to construct a mall in his constituency to keep up with his image. The mall was set to be constructed in a thirty-year-old slum known as Pathaani Tola, and the land was sold to Shenoy Builders. Shukla was operating on his own without seeking the permission of the Chief Minister. He was confident that the government would soon be his, and he did not care to get any official approval. Not only did Shukla aim to build a mall in Pathaani Tola, but he also announced the immediate eviction of the locals. Even though the planetary position was unfavorable for such a risky business, Shukla had immense confidence in himself. He had spent the last few years studying astrology, and he believed that he had all the knowledge required to counter the ill-effects of the planetary positions. His confidence and his distrust resulted in the death of the pandit. Once Shukla learned that the pandit frequented the CM’s office, he lost confidence in the elderly man. His henchman, Madan Singh, pulled the trigger, and that was the end of Panditji, or so we were asked to believe.
What seemed strange in Choona was how the Chief Minister did not interfere even after the widespread protest in Pathaani Tola. Perhaps he restrained from taking any action against Shukla, fearing that he would eventually lose all the people who supported him simply because they were, in one way or another, grateful to Shukla. Challenging the most influential political figure was Ansari Sheik, a local thug determined to become a leader and operate his own party. Ansari was one of the many goons who worked for the local political party, Maachis, headed by a short, stout man popularly known as Mintu Bhai.
Mintu tried his best to keep Ansari under control, but the young man had dreams too big to be contained. Ansari spent most of his childhood with Faulaad Singh, a famous local thug who was murdered by Shukla’s men. Faulaad and Ansari were not related by blood, but that did not take away the admiration that the little boy had for him. With dreams of becoming an influential figure, Ansari decided to approach Shukla with a promising proposal. He did not have any personal enmity with Shukla and wanted to join his party to grow as a politician. After meeting the protest leader, Shabbir, Ansari managed to reach out to Shukla. He announced that he had the support of the minority community and would benefit whichever party he moved on to after Maachis.
Ansari proposed a deal—he was ready to join Shukla’s Swaach Samaj Party, and he hoped to contest the next election for them as long as the mall was constructed at a different location and Pathaani Tola was left as it was. While Shukla was impressed by the young lad’s confidence, he could sense that Ansari could become a potent threat. Shukla had made up his mind to carry on the construction at Pathaani Tola, and he was furious when Ansari threatened with self-immolation if the construction continued. After meeting Shukla, Ansari felt more confident than ever before, and he finally decided to leave Maachis. Before ending all ties with Maachis, he managed to get money out of Mintu Bhai and his brother by pointing AK-47s at them. Mintu Bhai and Shukla had joined forces, and Ansari was kidnapped from his house. After his men tortured Ansari, Shukla sat down to have a word with him, and at that time, he was the one with complete power and control. He planned to torch both Ansari and Sabbir, and after scaring them with a death threat, Shukla had a change of heart thanks to his superstitious beliefs. From that day on, Ansari wanted to seek revenge on Shukla, and he was in contact with others who shared a similar feeling.
What Was Ansari And His Team’s Plan?
Ansari met constructor J.P. Yadav at a bar, and their common hatred towards Shukla united them. Shukla had publicly humiliated J.P. during the inauguration of a restoration project. J.P. had invested millions into the project, thinking it would become the turning point of his career, but Shukla shattered his dreams. He ridiculed J.P. for not planning the construction according to the Indian Vastu system. Ansari introduced J.P. Yadav to his childhood best friend, Baankey. While the friendship between the thug and the cop was unusual, they trusted each other completely. Baankey was mortified thinking about the day he was slapped multiple times by his senior at a local bar, and Shukla was the reason behind it. Baankey was on duty at the temple, and he objected when Shukla tried to break the line. He was unaware of who Shukla was then, and the politician made sure that Baankey remembered him for life.
Joining the Shukla Haters Club was a con-man, Triloki. Triloki had no fixed job, and he had a new identity every other day. He often worked as an informant for Baankey, and he had recently been whitewashing Shukla’s place to gather information. He learned about the $300 million transaction that Shukla had planned. Shukla wanted to buy five MLAs to make sure that the government toppled, and supporting him financially was Senoy Builders. The members of the team soon escalated to five when Triloki introduced Bishnu to the equation. Bishnu was Shukla’s brother-in-law, and he harbored hatred for the man since childhood. Bishnu’s sister was more of a mother to him, and he was so gravely traumatized by her death that he lost his speech. Bishnu knew that Shukla murdered his sister after he was told by an astrologer that his son would ruin him. Shukla poisoned his wife and took Bishnu along with him after her death. Shukla felt guilty for destroying Bishnu’s life, and Bishnu gradually became his close aide. For twenty years, Bishnu had been planning to avenge his sister, and the perfect time had finally arrived.
Bishnu had access to all the surveillance cameras used, even the ones fixed in the cars. When Bishnu heard Shukla asking Madan to drop Panditji, he knew something was wrong. He kept a close watch over the car’s surveillance footage, and once he figured out that Madan had shot Panditji and drowned him, he immediately drove to his rescue. Surprise, surprise, the Panditji was still alive! He wore a patch over his right eye as a result of the bullet wound; it reminded him of the injustice that he faced, and he wanted to destroy Shukla as well. The astrologer was confident about his readings and knew that Shukla was approaching his doom’s day. The Shukla haters gathered at Triloki’s girlfriend’s V.R. parlor to devise a plan. They had to enter the party office and collect the cash, but the security was almost impossible to deceive. The only person who could help them from inside was Bishnu, but they needed to find a way to keep Shukla distracted during the heist.
Why Did Ansari Join The Swaach Samaj Party?
Initially, they planned on looting 300 crore, but soon the value increased to 600 crore. Shukla had started a fire at Pathaani Tola with Mintu’s help. The moment Ansari saw Mintu taking pictures of the fire, he knew what had gone down. He thrashed Mintu, and that eventually led to his arrest. The people of Pathaani Tola sided with Ansari and demanded his release. Shukla tried to create a rift between Ansari and Baankey, but it did not result in anything fruitful. Ansari was ultimately released as the situation in Pathaani Tola turned ugly. Meanwhile, Mintu abducted Bela without consulting Shukla. Mintu did not know that Bela was brilliant with guns, and once she got hold of one, it was the end of Mintu and his gang. Bela did not need saving, and the entire kidnapping backfired. Shukla asked his faithful policeman, Rastogi, to teach Mintu a lesson by arresting him.
Meanwhile, Shukla tried to pacify the situation at Pathaani Tola by offering Ansari to join his party. While Ansari was hesitant at first, he knew that rejecting the proposal would make Shukla suspect him all the more. Since initially joining Shukla’s party and getting an election ticket was all he ever wanted, he decided to accept it. Even though Ansari had hoped that Shukla would leave Pathaani Tola after all the added chaos, he was not ready to budge. To the media, Ansari was on Shukla’s side, but in reality, he was plotting against him. Ansari’s decision to publicly join Shukla’s party did not go well with his teammates, but he eventually sorted out the misunderstanding.
What Role Did Triloki Play?
Triloki used his deceiving skills to fool Shukla. With the help of Bishnu, Triloki entered Shukla’s house, masquerading as an aghori astrologer. With the Chief Minister taking steps against Shukla after the escalation of the Pathaani Tola matter, the situation had gotten complex beyond anticipation. Shukla started to doubt his calculation skills and was in search of an astrologer to guide him. Thus enters Triloki, and by exhibiting his astrological knowledge and by creating a certain sense of mysticism, he somewhat manages to convince Shukla that he is the only one who could save him. Shukla believed that the Aghori astrologer was either a man of god or a brilliant con-man. Triloki disappeared into thin air after he asked Madan Singh to chant a prayer, and that was just another way to convince Shukla that the man had supernatural power.
The predictions made by Triloki turned out to be true (it was all well planned and brilliantly executed), and Shukla started to search for the aghori astrologer. The next time Triloki arrived at his party office, Shukla disclosed that he would be receiving money from the builder, and he wanted to know if the time was right for such a transaction. Triloki advised him to conduct the business before the solar eclipse and expose the cash to the sun’s radiation to purify the dirty money. Shukla bought into the nonsensical logic of the aghori astrologer, and he was even convinced about changing the direction of the bathroom commode to attract good luck. The next day, J.P. Yadav, dressed as a plumber, entered Shukla’s party office. While relocating the commode, he dug up a safe space for Ansari to hide in. They needed someone to remain inside, and since everyone at the party office knew Ansari, it was not safe for him to enter through the front door. Ansari camped in the closed space to execute the plan.
Was The Heist Successful?
On the day of the solar eclipse, Bela and Baankey tracked down Madan Singh and sprayed him with anesthetics to work on their plan. Bishnu declared it was his last day, and he offered to entertain the guards at the party office with a V.R. film. While the guards were busy watching the V.R. film, Bishnu helped J.P. and Jhumpa set up their equipment in a police van. Bishnu was supposed to be the one working in the surveillance room, but he fell asleep after being licked by the dogs he had fed sleeping pills. There was no other option but for Jhumpa to step in and set the surveillance footage to loop and fix the device that would trigger the bomb set in the bathroom. As soon as the bomb went off, Ansari emerged from behind the wall, ready to carry on with his assigned tasks. He walked into the room, deactivated the laser system, and packed all the suitcases with a stack of money in them. Using a zipline, he passed the bags to J.P. and Jhumpa. Before leaving, he made final touches that were meant to offend Shukla.
While the gang carried out the operation, Shukla was busy performing a cleansing ritual with Triloki. Towards the end of Choona, Shukla becomes doubtful of Triloki and questions him about astrology, but somehow Triloki manages to pass the test. Bela, masquerading as the housemaid, offered tea to Triloki and Shukla. She had added a sedative to Shukla’s tea, and soon after consuming it, Shukla was down. Triloki and Bela escaped from Shukla’s house and met the rest of the team on the way. When Shukla came to his senses, he heard a whimpering sound from the kitchen and realized that his maid was tied and locked in a cupboard. He immediately knew he had been fooled by the aghori astrologer, but he was not yet sure about the scale of the heist.
Shukla drove to the party office and realized that all his money was gone. He entered the washroom that was in shambles, and the door went into auto-lock mode. Shukla was greeted by the heist group through a monitor that they had fixed in the washroom. One by one, they revealed themselves, and while he did not care about the rest, he was stunned when he saw Bishnu on the other side. Shukla stuttered when he heard Bishnu speak. He had not anticipated such a turn of events at all. He promised to destroy each one of them without accepting that he was the reason behind his downfall. Had Shukla not destroyed the lives of so many, he might have managed to live through the unlucky phase of his life. But instead of accepting his failure, the one thing that stuck with Shukla was that he must not disrespect the planets and the astrological significance of planetary positions.
What Happened To Shukla?
Shukla was forced to repeat “Long Live, Faulad Singh” to unlock the washroom. He sold all his possessions to pay back Sanoy Builders, but he was still short of ten crores. However, the company was not forgiving, and they ended up supporting the Chief Minister. Without money, Shukla was powerless, and his dreams of toppling the government remained unfulfilled. The Chief Minister no longer needed him, and he was eventually sent to prison. Shukla was released on bail, but he had no home or office to go to, so he decided to head back to his birthplace and start his political journey afresh.
Will Shukla Return?
While the ending of Choona is conclusive, a second season can be created if so desired. Shukla can return to avenge his hate club, but it might be a little stretched, considering how he has lost everything and needs to build his career anew. He has wronged too many people to get back the lavish life he once lived. Shukla did not change as a person; the entire incident only taught him to respect astrology, a fear that was used against him by the group. But instead of studying the situation logically, he went back to blaming and fearing the unseeable. It just goes on to say that the Shuklas around us will not change; they just might add a few more rings for added security.
During Choona‘s ending, Bela decides to break up with Ansari. She was ready to raise her child on her own, and she was afraid of Ansari turning into a bloodhound politician like Shukla. Ansari was heartbroken, but Baankey was proud of his sister’s decision. On the other hand, Bishnu packed his bags to travel to Andaman just like he intended to, and Triloki and Jhumpa tried to come up with a plan to spend the money wisely. Jhumpa had recently learned that Triloki used to be a student activist. His hatred for a person like Shukla stemmed from his anger towards capitalists in general. While Jhumpa accused him of being a thief, she was a little impressed when she learned about his ideology. And as expected, Panditji started working for the Chief Minister. According to Panditji’s prediction, Shukla had no chance of making a return; well, only time will tell, I guess.